Ladies, I think we need to have a real talk with Tim Story, the director of “Think Like a Man,” the upcoming film (April 2012) based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling relationship advice guide, “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man.” IMDB describes the movie as, “A self-professed relationship expert [Kevin Hart] who is quick to give advice to his crew of friends, even as his own marriage heads toward divorce.” So far, the studio has been stacking the odds of success in their favor with a roster of actors that includes heartthrob Michael Ealy, Black romantic comedy staple Gabrielle Union, and Oscar nominee Taraji P. Henson. On Sunday, the studio announced that it had completed casting, adding two final names to the line up: It Girl LaLa Vazquez… and Chris Brown?  
Brown is a competent actor, as demonstrated in “This Christmas” (my favorite holiday movie) and the action-flick “Takers.” And despite his career setback after “The Incident,” he’s unquestionably back on top, evidenced by his latest album, “F.A.M.E,” debuting at number one on the charts (a first for Brown) and selling an astounding 270,000 copies in its first week. His “Today” show appearance last Friday drew a record-breaking crowd of 18,000, surpassing the record set by Lady Gaga last year. (I’ve seen Brown perform live twice. Amazing.) I totally understand why his bankable-again name would flutter across a director’s mind for a project. But I don’t get why he would be offered a role in “Think Like a Man,” a big-screen extension of a brand about helping women find a mate who honors, respects, and appreciates them. Chris Brown is still seen as one of the last people who represents that ideal.
I hate to bring up old ish, but I must. Chris Brown beat Rihanna until she was bruised and bloody. He’s apologized profusely, done his community service, completed his anger management classes and diligently worked his butt off for a second chance. I respect the way he’s working hard to rebuild his image, but when it comes to relationships, he’s still very much under construction. Unfortunately, Breezy remains the reigning poster boy for anger mis-management (throwing the chair at a “Good Morning America” window in March didn’t help), and he’s equally known for his talents on the stage as he is for busting up his girlfriend in a car two years ago. It will be near impossible for women to take Brown seriously in whatever role he plays in this film and to disassociate him from his complicated previous relationship.
I respect Story’s decision to add as much Black star power as possible to the project. He needs to get people, especially Black ones, excited about the movie and to the theater on opening weekend. But I hope Story knows there are many women who may not find the humor in a romantic comedy featuring a man whose past includes leaving a woman black and blue. By building buzz for his film, he may also be burning bridges.
Demetria L. Lucas is the Relationships Editor at ESSENCE and the author of “A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life” (Atria) in stores now. Follow her on Twitter: @abelleinbk for info about her upcoming book signing in Washington, DC on July 23.